Sunday, March 29, 2015

Flor de Jerez

For a fraction of a second the ice cubes went completely airborne -- having left the scoop and not yet landed in the martini shaker.  When they did land, they did so as a single mass and clattered into the bottom of the tin.   Scoop buried to the hilt in the ice bin at the same time the shaker hit the bar at the end of a line of six bottles.

"AND THEN HE STARTS CALLING ME BARBARELLA!  BARBARELLA!!!  BAR-BAR-EL-LA!" Katie smacked out each syllable on her side of the bar.  The bartender just looked at her and nodded.  The corners of his mouth tugged upward in a small polite smile that never made it to his eyes.

"You're kidding," he said.  "And were you in a bar at the time?"

"YES I WAS IN A BAR --WE WERE IN A BAR.  THASHOWISTARTED...STARTED THE STORY..."  Katie took another pull from her margarita straw.  It took her two tries to get her hands to grab the heavy glass goblet.

"You were shouting in a bar, and he called you Barbarella," shaking his head, he put both hands on the bar like a couple of buttresses and locked directly onto Katie's eyes.  The sincerity was way over the top, walking right to the line of sarcasm.  "Men can be so cruel."  Then as if someone threw a switch, he went right back to his crafting.


"Katie, dear.  You're shouting.  The room just isn't that loud."

"AUNT GIIIIINA!" Katie squealed and tumbled off her barstool.  She bounced a bit in the knees, finding the floor a moment sooner than she anticipated.  Gina grabbed Katie just above both elbows and held her at arm's length to fix her with a reprimanding look.  "SORRY!  Sorry!" she staged whispered.  "Aun' Jjjina, I love you so much.  You are susha dear, dear friend.  Najus'to mom.  But tawallavus."

"I know, dear.  Now -- " Gina put an index finger to her lips and returned to her stool on the other side of Emma.  Katie mirrored the gesture.

The bartender picked up the stained bottle of Angostura bitters and shot it twice into the iced shaker.  Next he picked up the translucent plastic bottle, pointed it into the shaker and squeezed in some cane sugar syrup -1-2-3.

Gina slid back up onto to her stool.  More stage whispering.  "Wuzzeye shouting?"

Next the large plastic juice jug.  1and-2and- of fresh lemon juice.  "A little bit."

"Who is he to be calling me Barbarella, anyway?  He wasn't so hot.  I mean, really?  Lookh at me.  I don't lookhlikea... CAVEWOMAN!"

From the tall, slender bottle the bartender dispensed a quarter ounce of apricot liqueur into the shot glass.    Then he picked up the bottle of sherry.  He preferred the higher end Amontillados for his sherry-based bevs.  A full jigger splashed over the ice.  Finally, the half ounce of reserved rum.  He put the lid on the tin and began shaking.  "You have no idea who Barbarella is, do you?"  She giggled into her margarita which meant no.  "So what's up with your mom?  Why is she so sad?"

"Tchh," Katie rolled her eyes so hard he practically heard them thunk against the back of her skull.  "She and my dad finally split.  She acts like she's entitled to lifetime happiness or something.  So now her life is over and we all gotta stop what we're doing and take care of her.  Like my life is so perfect I need to take care of hers?  Spsh!"

"How long were they married?"  He strained the shaker contents into a coup.  Instantly, the glass generated a film of condensation that perfectly aligned with the liquid in the glass.  The cocktail glowed with the ambient tea lights like an amber jewel.  Flecks of ice floated to the top and coated the surface in miniature, glistening constellations.

"Idunno.  Something likh fortyears."

Another switch was thrown in the bartender, a tightly controlled mask sliding over his face as he intentionally avoided eye contact with anyone.  "That's a lifetime with someone.  I can understand how she might have a hard time adjusting."  He slid the coup with the jewel-like amber liquid towards Katie.  "Here, take a break from the margaritas for a minute."

"What's this?"

"It's called a Flor de Jerez.  I like to pair a drink to the customer's personality."

Katie concentrated to lift the delicate glass to her lips.  A stringent flowery vapor hit her nostrils well ahead of the glass touching her lips.  She took a sip and recoiled.  A curl wrinkled her nose and pinched her eyebrows.  "Oh my god!" she sputtered.  "What is this?" Suddenly she was more sober than only a second ago.

"I told you.  It's called a Flor de Jerez."

"It's so bitter."

"Really.  Guess I nailed it."  Katie looked at him, cocked her head and blinked.  She giggled into her Flor de Jerez which meant she didn't get it.

"Men can be so cruel."  The bartender looked in the direction from which the sarcasm flew.  A smiling Emma sat with her elbows on the bar and her fingertips gently grasping the top of her Brandy Alexander.  He smiled sadly.  She gave him a wink.

Flor de Jerez
1/2 oz. reserved rum
1 1/2 oz. Amontillado sherry
1/4 oz. apricot liqueur
3/4 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. cane sugar syrup
1 dash Angostura bitters

Pour all ingredients in an ice-filled shaker and shake until cold.  Strain into a coup.  No garnish.

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